SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed HF 2, authored by Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL – Mendota Heights), to establish a Paid Family and Medical Leave program similar to Minnesota’s unemployment insurance program.
“At the core of this bill, we are reinforcing humanity for Minnesota workers,” said Rep. Richardson. “Creating a statewide family and medical safety net for families and workers is critical for our overall workforce development, retention, and economy. We have done an incredible amount of work to ensure the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) bill encompasses a diverse range of voices and perspectives. We know at some point in a person’s working career, they will need extended paid time to care for their family or themselves. I am proud of this bill because no longer will working families need to worry about compromising between their paycheck and the welfare of their loved ones.”
“All Minnesotans should have access to paid time off to care for themselves and their loved ones,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Far too many Minnesotans have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of a new baby, an aging parent, or themselves. DFLers are committed to providing workers and families with greater economic security.”
Less than 20% of workers in the United States have access to paid family and medical leave through their employers. The rest, predominantly lower-wage workers, face some impossible decisions. Under the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workers in the U.S. can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of a child or if the worker or a family member has a serious illness or injury. Most workers, however, cannot afford to take unpaid leave and the FMLA offers little relief.
“We continue to hear from Minnesotans that a statewide paid family and medical leave policy would improve their lives,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee some form of paid leave for its workforce. This is long overdue and it’s going to help make Minnesota the best state in the nation for children and families.”
The United States is the only high-wealth country in the world that does not allow workers to take paid family leave. Further, a compelling majority of Americans support paid family leave. In one recent, national poll, 84% expressed support for a national paid family leave program. The paid family leave program would be administered by the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in conjunction with its Unemployment Insurance (UI) program.
Every day in Minnesota, workers face the impossible choice of either going to work to earn a paycheck or staying home to take care of themselves or a sick family member. While some workers have jobs that provide paid sick leave, legislation on the issue is lacking, leaving thousands of Minnesotans without access to a single paid day off. Those in the lowest wage positions and our BIPOC community members face stark disparities. Paid Family and Medical Leave will empower workers to take the time they deserve to focus on their wellness, without having to worry about their paychecks.
You can watch the presentation and testimony of the bill here.